WORKERS COMPENSATION IS A POLITICAL FOOTBALL!

In 1995 the Republican party had control of both houses of Oregon’s legislature, and they had a major piece of legislation (SB 369) which was intended to drastically curtail workers rights. Then Governor Kitzhaber referred to Workers Compensation as “the Bosnia of Oregon Politics.” He then traded some environmental protections for workers rights, and SB 369 passed mostly as written.

It is rare for Workers Compensation to rise to the national level, mostly because all states have their own Workers Compensation statute. When it does, it is usually because the Supreme Court interferes.

The recent nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the US Supreme Court could be bad for working people. Here is an interesting story about some of his decisions on the DC Court of Appeals. Justice Kennedy was no friend of the worker, but Judge Kavanaugh may be worse.

~Chris Moore

Brett Kavanaugh Ruled Against Workers When No One Else Did.

By Dave Jamieson

His dissents involving undocumented meatpacking workers and a death at SeaWorld tell us a lot about the worldview of Trump’s Supreme Court pick.

WASHINGTON ― In 2005, a group of workers at a meatpacking plant in Brooklyn voted to join a union. Their employer, a kosher meat wholesaler called Agri Processor, fought the organizing effort as best it could. Once the workers were unionized, the company refused to bargain, arguing that most of them weren’t covered by collective bargaining law because they were undocumented immigrants.

Ultimately, neither the National Labor Relations Board nor the majority of judges on a panel for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit agreed with Agri Processor. The only one who did was Brett Kavanaugh, the circuit judge who wrote a dissent in the case and is now President Donald Trump’s nominee to replace Justice Anthony Kennedy on the Supreme Court.

The Agri Processor case provides a window into Kavanaugh’s thinking when it comes to workers’ rights. Like the conservative justices he would join at the Supreme Court, Kavanaugh has tended to side with employers in workplace disputes. If confirmed, he would almost certainly continue the Supreme Court’s run of business-friendly rulings in contentious, precedent-setting cases that have weakened labor unions and class-action lawsuits in recent years.

Yet despite his conservative track record, it’s unlikely that the seating of Kavanaugh would create a dramatic rightward shift in the court when it comes to labor law. That’s because the justice he would be replacing was already a reliable vote for management in major decisions.

Though often a swing vote on social issues, Kennedy tended to side with the conservative wing in blockbuster employment cases, including two from this term: Epic Systems Corp. v. Lewis, which made it legal for employers to require workers to sign class-action waivers, and Janus v. AFSCME, which will likely decrease union membership by making the entire public sector right-to-work.

“The bottom line, [Kavanaugh] will be a justice who will understand the employer’s perspective, and I don’t think it will be a significant change from Justice Kennedy in that regard,” said Steven Suflas, a management-side attorney at Ballard Spahr law firm who argued a case before Kavanaugh.

Despite his conservative track record, it’s unlikely that the seating of Kavanaugh would create a dramatic rightward shift in the court when it comes to labor law.

Kavanaugh has understood the employer’s perspective in plenty of cases beyond Agri Processor. In 2014, he dissented in a 2-1 decision upholding the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s fines against SeaWorld in one of the most closely watched workplace safety cases in recent years.

“The bottom line, [Kavanaugh] will be a justice who will understand the employer’s perspective, and I don’t think it will be a significant change from Justice Kennedy in that regard,” said Steven Suflas, a management-side attorney at Ballard Spahr law firm who argued a case before Kavanaugh.

Despite his conservative track record, it’s unlikely that the seating of Kavanaugh would create a dramatic rightward shift in the court when it comes to labor law.

Kavanaugh has understood the employer’s perspective in plenty of cases beyond Agri Processor. In 2014, he dissented in a 2-1 decision upholding the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s fines against SeaWorld in one of the most closely watched workplace safety cases in recent years.

Contuniue Reading…

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2018-07-11T11:27:17+00:00